Monday, March 27, 2017

How I Edit

Since I finished the first pass of edit notes on Wish Hits the Fan yesterday, I thought I'd take a moment and talk about editing.  Or rather, how I edit.

As you may already know, I write the entirety of the book before I edit anything.  Well, that's not strictly true.  I do edit as I go along, but it's unconscious editing.  As I type, I backspace when I make mistakes or when I think of better wording or whatever.  There's a lot of backspacing in there - as Hubs could probably tell you because he can hear the difference in the keystrokes between me writing and the telltale clicks of the backspace key.  I don't even notice it anymore.  Except when I make the same mistake after the backspacing and I hit that backspace key again like it was a bad little key.

Once I have a whole manuscript from Chapter One to the final words (I don't actually type THE END until the book has passed through editing.  It's a quirk with me, I guess.) I email the book to my Kindle.  Then I grab my handy-dandy five subject notebook (thinner notebooks are too thin, I like heft beneath my hand as I write) and head for the recliner.  I open the file of my manuscript and begin reading - making notes as I go.  In red.  Always in red.  (Another quirk.)

> = something needs to be edited here
R> = revise
D> = delete
E> = expand
I> = italicize
?> = wtf did I mean here?
GoM> Gun on the mantel*
>> = major note

Then I write down the line in question, so I can find it during a search of the manuscript later.

I> Well, isn't that just peachy? 
D> drew in a deep

Sometimes, I underline the problem and put a '( with the change' at the end of the line...

> cock and bill story  (bull

Sometimes the problem is bigger than a ( will handle, so I drop down a line and write out what I meant...

R> That's the best I know how to explain it.
      ^ lame and doesn't sound like Tryg


?> enslaved again... That last one
     ^WTF were you going for there? **

When I get all of that written in my handy-dandy notebook, I bring it back here, open the file and begin following my own directions.  I check off each line as I complete it - in black ink.  If I see something I can't complete right then, because it refers to something later in the manuscript, I make a big black ( in the left margin so I can go back later and make sure I really did fix it by the end.

After I get all the notes entered, I send the whole thing back to my Kindle again and start over, catching anything I might've missed or anything I might've screwed up while I was fixing other stuff.  Lather, rinse, repeat until I think I've gone about as far as I can go on my own.  Then I send it to my editor.

And that's how I do editing.  It's different for each writer, I think.

Hope you found this glimpse into my editing insanity interesting.  ;o)

*Gun on the mantel refers to a writing thing.  "If you put a gun on the mantel in the first act, you need to fire it by the third act" or something.  (Not sure who originally said it, but it's true, so I use it.)  It means don't put in something important if you never use it later.  Or, at least, that's what I mean by it.

** I refer to myself as 'you' when I write edit notes.  It just works for me.  Quirk #3, I guess.


  1. *Attributed to Chekov (the writer not the Star Trek character. LOL) Here's an interesting discussion if you need a diversion:;f=101;t=000307;p=0

    Editing is one of the reasons I love Scrivener. I do my basic edits there but then I have to transfer to Word for my editor and we go to "track changes." Fun times. *rolls eyes*

    I'm always interested in the process other authors use. There seems to as many ways to write and edit as there are authors. LOL

    1. I thought it might be Chekov, but I was too lazy to google-fu when I wrote the post.

      OMG, I hate 'track changes' so much. Thank goodness my editor doesn't subject me to that. She puts awesome pink notes right in the manuscript, so I can scroll down and pick them out easily. Maybe I'll talk about that on Wednesday.

      LOL, yep. That's because we're all unique. Yay!